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[257] was sent to Madrid, to ascertain the sentiments and
Chap XXXIX.} 1769. Feb.
intentions of the Catholic King; the Minister of the marine and the Minister of finance were directed to consult the Chambers of Commerce of the Kingdom; while Choiseul, aware of the novelty of a system founded on the principle of a free trade, looked about him on every side for prevailing arguments and motives against hereditary prepossessions.1

While the proposals were under consideration, the state of America was again the theme of conversation in the House of Commons;2 where once more on the eighth of February, strenuous efforts were made to prove the illegality and cruelty of fetching Americans across the Atlantic for trial.

‘They may save themselves,’ said Rose Fuller, ‘by going still further, and bringing the question to the point of arms.’—‘You have no right to tax the Colonies,’ repeated Beckford; ‘the system has not produced a single shilling to the exchequer; the money is all eaten up by the officers who collect it.’—‘Your measures,’ cried Phipps after an admirable statement, ‘are more calculated to raise than to quell a rebellion. It is our duty to stand between the victim and the altar.’—‘The statute of the thirty-fifth year of Henry the Eighth,’ observed Frederic Montagu, ‘was passed in the worst times of the worst reign, when the taste of blood had inflamed the savage disposition of Henry.’ ‘The Act,’ declared Sir William Meredith, ‘does not extend to America; and were I an American I ’

1 Choiseul to Du Chatelet, 6 Feb. 1769.

2 Cavendish Debates, i. 207, &c. W. S. Johnson to Gov. Pitkin, 9 Feb. 1769.

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